Friday, July 22, 2011

Shooting in the Dark

So what do you do when it's incredibly hot outside and you still want to do some portrait work?

You ask your wife to join you outside as the night came in, and hope you have enough light to get your settings right as you test out new flash ideas. Here's what we came up with shooting last night and tonight.

I seldom shoot much after dark. Why? Because I live in the country. The boonies. Two doors down from the deer and the bear. My neighbors are foxes and coyotes. To say that the nightlife is pretty dark would be an understatement. And try as I might, I can't get a good shot of our yard full of fireflies to save my life. Not sure how to convey the awesomeness of our yard flashing and glowing on these hot, sultry nights.

That said, sometimes it is too darned hot to shoot during the daylight hours. Yesteday was over 106F in our yard. We don't regularly see temps anywhere near that high around here. Maybe close to 100, but seldom higher. Yesterday was a scorcher.

Tonight's fun shots brought to you by the number 95 (degrees), Nikon (d300s, 85mm 1.8) and Pocket Wizard (AC3 controller, MiniTTL, and Flex TT5).

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Looking Up

This has been a busy month so far. This week Aurora was in the Cornell rock climbing camp. Somehow, while doing all the normal "camp" things kids are expected to do, swimming, canoeing, etc... they also had to learn how to climb, boulder, belay, and rappel.

Aurora's strength and stamina from her new-found summer jobs gardening made climbing considerably easier this year. The even mapped out a new bouldering path for others to follow. It required some pretty interesting/awkward hangs and leaps.

As fun as climbing is, Aurora really enjoyed belaying other kids even more. She liked being able to focus on only one thing, one person at a time. Having the chance to watch her belaying kids this friday was really insightful. You could see the focus and diligence. She was feeling everything through the rope between her and her partner. If there was a slight tremble in the rope, she knew before her partner did that a fall was imminent. Fall arrested and climbing could resume. No more than a stumble. She made it look so easy!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Nothin' Beats a Fresh Smellin' Puppy

Georgia had a big bath today.... complete with a hair drying and brushing out, and lots of clumps of tangles cut out. It's weed season here, and the stick-tites were matting up her fur something fierce. Even after her bath, there are still so many clumps in her fur that need some professional de-matting. I am half-expecting her to come back from the groomers shorn like a spring lamb.

One of the things I have been playing with lately is adding small bits of strobe to my "natural light" pictures. With the new wireless Pocket Wizard triggers on my speedlight and my camera, the set up and triggering is almost too easy. I am using the AC3 Zone Controller on top of a MiniTT1 and a Flex TT5 on a SB-700. I think the pricetag is outta-this-world, but the performance is top notch. Can't complain. Took 5 min to figure it all out and then WHAM! the pictures all started turning out exactly as I hoped. Probably 10-20x better results than what I was getting with the Nikon CLS system by itself. This wireless system is spot on! Anyone want to hear more about my experiences with the new gear? Let me know in the comments and I'll work up a formal review if folks are keen to know.

Georgia Rose has obviously grown. As Nancy's cousin said: "Oh My GOD! That Big dog ate your puppy!" Yep. Georgia is getting mighty big. Still a puppy though. Can't figure out which end is which sometimes. She and Ferro have reached detente... which sometimes results from hours of bopping each other on the face, again and again. No claws thankfully, but it sounds just dreadful. I'm hoping to do some more high-speed flash work with Georgia this weekend... but only if it cools off a little. Right now it is so hot and humid, the last thing I want to do is lug camera gear around outside in the sun. Here's hoping for a nice quiet rain tonight.